Lifewater Extends Reach of New Program in Southern Ethiopia with Support of Anonymous Foundation

With the support of a generous anonymous donor, Lifewater International is expanding its service into new areas and people in southern Ethiopia, reaching thousands of people who currently suffer from inadequate access to water and chronic water-borne disease.

In San Luis Obispo on Thursday, Lifewater Chief Executive Officer, Justin Narducci, expressed eagerness to begin the multi-year program in the Oromiya Region. Narducci shared, “Because of the remote, rural nature of the area, the people of Oromiya have largely missed out on the efforts to get safe water that the people in other regions experience. We are eager to work alongside them to help build their health and communities.”

The program reaches people living in the West Arsi Zone of Oromiya, in the highlands of southern Ethiopia, where an average annual rainfall of 36 inches provides surface water for crops, but is quickly contaminated and unsuitable for human consumption. Farmers and herders struggle to access safe water. According to a 2014 WHO and UNICEF report, only 42% of rural Ethiopians have access to an improved water source, and only 23% have access to improved sanitation.

Without a reliable source of safe water, millions in West Arsi live with chronic illness, malnutrition, high rates of infant mortality, and lack of access to education. Children under age 10 in Oromiya suffer from a high rate of trachoma – over 41%, above the national average of Ethiopia. Trachoma is a bacterial disease that causes blindness and can be prevented with safe water, sanitation, and hygiene.

Lifewater’s missional approach to water development—mWASH—combines the best practices in water access, sanitation and hygiene while proclaiming God’s all-encompassing and redeeming love for the world’s most vulnerable people. With the Lifewater program, it costs $40 to provide one person safe water and improved health for life.

The foundation supporting the initiation of this program, who wishes to remain anonymous, provided $75,000 so that people “gain an improved sense of dignity, better health, and the ability to live life to its fullest extent.” A representative of the foundation added, “We support [Lifewater’s] mission to create best practices and the empowerment of the people in the management of sustainable WASH solutions. [We are] also inspired by your effort to provide your services in a faith-based environment upon which the living waters of Christ can be experienced.”

Lifewater has been working in Ethiopia for over 10 years, reaching approximately 102,000 people over that time. This new program aims to serve 15,760 and 4,350 students with safe water as well as 27,400 people with sanitation and hygiene education over the 2-year period, expanding programs and continuing evaluation for the next 5-10 years.

Lifewater International is a non-profit Christian water development organization dedicated to effectively serving vulnerable children and families by partnering with underserved communities to overcome water poverty. With experience in more than 40 countries since 1977, Lifewater serves people of all faiths, focusing on contextually appropriate water sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) development. For more information, contact Christine Zurbach ( or visit Lifewater International is based in San Luis Obispo, CA.

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